Category Archives: Garden

Time to seed Peppers

Here in Idaho, we’re now only 7 weeks away from average last frost (about May 10) and about 10 weeks away from June 1st which is the safest time to set out heat-loving plants like tomatoes and peppers. I know that by planting now, my peppers will be blooming vigorously in their pots by June 1, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. But I’m anticipating a warmer year this year so I’m hoping to be able to set these out a little before June 1.

Peppers germinate best at 80 degrees so I use a reptile warming mat under my seed tray to simulate Mexican conditions here in March and control it with a thermostat.

Pepper seedling tray on warming mat

The light you see is coming from the shelf above which has other seedlings on it. It isn’t needed for germination. Here is a close-up of the thermostat I use below. You can get these on Amazon or maybe at your favorite gardening store.

Heat Mat Thermostat

You can see the little wire running into the middle of the seed tray in this picture below. That’s the temperature sensor.

Temperature sensor

I seeded some lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, leeks and onions a while back and they’re all doing great so far. I hope we have a cool spring for their sakes.

I can tell right now I’m going to need more lights, more shelving, and more storage for all the veggies we’re going to freeze, can, ferment, juice, preserve, dehydrate, and otherwise store and enjoy this year (Lord willing) – and give away.

Gardening is such a joy. It’s relaxing even though it requires some strenuous labor, and it’s endlessly fascinating how God makes it all work. It makes me think of the creation story because the Bible says God made man and placed him in a garden (Gen. 2:8). Apparently, we were quite literally made to do this. It also reminds me of all sorts of other Bible truths, such as the law of sowing and reaping (Gal. 6:7) and the future resurrection and transformation of all believers who will receive new immortal heavenly bodies (1 Cor. 15). I have time to think about these things while I’m gardening. It also reminds me of the tragedy of sin when the weeds come up, diseases appear, pests devour, and adverse weather cause failures (Gen. 3).

Time to Start Onions & Leeks

Late February is time to start some leek and onion seeds indoors. Here in Southwest Idaho, we’re 11 weeks from the average last frost date of May 10th. It’s on the early side for seeding my sweet onions, but this has been a warm winter and I’m anticipating being able to do a lot of earlier gardening this year.

My favorite reference book says onion seeds should be seeded 10-12 weeks before the last frost date so they have time to develop a strong root system, or 8-10 weeks prior if you have heavy clay soil. So I’m seeding a batch now at 11 weeks, and I will do more later since we do have heavier clay soil here.

Seeds in trays

I had a stack of foil trays from the dollar store handy so I used those this time. I poked holes in the bottom so they can drain. I did about 15 seeds per tray so that gives me 60 Candy Onions, 30 Walla Wallas, and 15 Leeks (American Flag variety). The Leeks take the whole season and come on basically all at once. We don’t use a ton of them so 15 will be plenty.

Seed trays

I get almost all of my seeds from Berlin Seeds in Ohio via mail order. They don’t have a website (they’re Amish Mennonite) but their information can be found here. They offer 100% non-GMO seeds at reasonable prices and have most of the varieties that I am looking for.

Seed trays under lights

I have a metal rack of shelves with my growing lights setup on it. These are just regular flourescent bulbs on a timer. Regular bulbs work well for veggies. You may need special grow lights for flowers or other types of plants. I cover the seeds with plastic wrap or with the clear lid that comes with the seed trays from the store to keep moisture in until seeds sprout. That way I don’t have to water them again until they’re up.

Keeping track

My second favorite gardening book comes with a handy form page for keeping track of plantings. After seeding, I write down the type and variety, number of seeds, and the seeding date. I also keep track of when I set them out. It’s helpful to track harvest dates to so you can time things better next year. For these sweet onions planted around the last frost date, I know I will be harvesting them (Lord willing) this summer in July some time. So I don’t have to track the harvest date precisely. But some onions will be for winter storage, for example. I’m not planting those yet, but when I do I’ll keep track of when they’re done so I can make sure I time the harvest for right around the cool-down time before the first frost.